Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This dress made my heart beat faster. At first I thought it couldn't possibly be as wondrous as it is. But it is. Oh and how it is.

And it has pockets.

But it belongs to someone else now. I should have posted this last week. Please forgive my tardiness, I was hideously fatigued between working, stage managing and running tech for a friend's show, and the old ennui. But the photos are lovely nonetheless, no?

The seller says this is Chinese, but I'm convinced it's Japanese. It reminds me of the haiga, Japanese brush work paintings that incorporate haiku. But I actually can't read a word in either language, so I don't really know what I'm talking about. Perhaps one of you out there can say for sure? Perhaps one of you even knows what this says.

I love how the writing almost obsessively covers most of top of the dress. This is a cheesy reference, but it reminds me of Peter Greenway's The Pillowbook. But in a good way. The brushstrokes on the figures of the monks along the border are terrific as well. I think this dress is a bit long. And it would be a crime to lose any of the print and shorten it. A crime.

This is one of those thrilling Hawaiian dress moments, when Hawaiian meets Asiana.

I deplore t-shirts with vulgar slogans written across the bosom. (Why invite more ogling? And why are kids today so crass?) But I do love dresses with prints that incorporate writing, though preferably in language other than English. Probably because I am an incorrigible snob, dead languages are ideal. A dress printed with lounging Aeolic ladies, laurel wreaths and some fragments of Sappho's poetry would provoke more interesting discussions than a t-shirt that says "porn star". At least one would hope. I've got a 70's Leslie Fay dress printed with poppies and mushrooms with their Latin names in flowing script beside them. And yes, amanita muscaria is among them, which has incited some interesting conversations with total strangers on the subway. I have many scarves and dresses with Egyptian hieroglyphics, but unfortunately I've never run into anyone who could read them. Presumably they are not quite right anyway. Of course textile designers often include languages they do not know as a design element, making it unreadable or just plain wrong. Apparently, a number of Alfred Shaheen's 1960s frocks with Arabic embelishments have the text upsidedown. I have an adorable late 60's circle skirt with silhouettes of men in top hats and a backwards inscription in Japanese. Whenever I wear it I am besieged by Japanese speakers eager to tell me so. Fortunately I find that charming.

That's one of the reasons it took so long for Europeans to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics. I kid you not. The Description of Egypt, a profoundly colonialist work created by Napoleon's crew of artists to show the monuments of ancient Egypt, is riddled with inaccuracies. The draughtsmen took liberties with the text they found on the buildings, changing it to look better and fit the page, rather the copying it as they saw it. And created a lot of headaches for Egyptologists who used their drawing in an attempt to understand the writings. Of course that was all cleared up with the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone in 1822.

I've also been in the middle of a full-scale EWRA, that is, an Evening Wear Red Alert. Spartacus is taking me to a fancy dress affair tonight. Our mission is to find a rich husband for him, and get ourselves photographed for the society pages of some glossy periodical. And we plan to accomplish this simply by dressing outlandishly and having sharp, pert, sparkling things to say. Our audacity won't save the world. No, indeed. It ain't gonna change the price of corn. But Spartacus could get a date or two out of this. And as my mother always said: it's just as easy to love a rich man as it is to love a poor man. Me, I'm a lost cause. I find penniless persons with visa problems the most alluring. But Spartacus is young, handsome and more open-minded.

Dear Spartacus has said taking me as his date to a party is like wearing a glorious headdress. Now some men have beards, but others have headdresses. But alas, these days I'm feeling more like a threadbare old house dress that should be cut up and used for cleaning rags. Plus we're in the middle of a serious heatwave on an evening that might include thunder showers and hail. Even Spartacus, ever-ready with a crisp mod suit, is perplexed on how to proceed. We are thinking festive, rather than formal. Of course, this is a very fun problem to have.

I recently stumbled upon a cornucopia of marvelously turned-out lads at Dandyism. Lively discussions of pocket squares and spectators are taking place over there. Some are even sporting ascots, and waxed handlebar moustaches. Hooray and huzzah.

Though I have long felt a kinship with dandies, in the end my commie politics intrude. Dandyism grew out of nostalgia for the deposed aristocracies of Europe. But ironically, it's greatest adherents were not the deposed aristocrats themselves, but the nouveau riches. Oscar Wilde was not a member of the class he satirized. Nor satyrized for that matter. (Sorry couldn't resist.) A certain amount of dandyism is tainted with nostalgia for a past that was frankly no good for most of the folks on the planet. But I think our comrades in French cuffs writing for Dandyism's Junta are exploring these issues in a nuanced way.

I enjoyed the recent 3 part profile of Lucius Beebe, writer, wit and peacock.

The date on this post is deceptive. It's actually June 10th.


Blogger tea said...

Thank you for linking to the Dandyism site! This looks like one for me to delve further into. My fella is going to wear a white-and-beige pin-striped outfit for our wedding and, hopefully, a red ascot. The queen in the men's wear department covered his giggle with his hand and said, "Pardon me, but you look like that writer Tom Wolfe." We were astonished and burst out laughing because that's exactly the aesthetic his mom and I were pushing on him to go for.

Also: fabulous dress! And fabulous basketweave silk!

10:32 AM  
Blogger samsara said...

Ms. Tea,
Glad you enjoyed the Dandies. I hope to spend more time on the site as well.
Tom Wolfe's look is very dapper indeed, and certainly something to aspire to. I'm sure your fella will look quite dashing. I do hope he dons the red ascot. I mean, how many fancy dress oppotunities does one get?

3:32 PM  

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